T. Blair: Labour Party Leader and Prime Minister of UK

Introduction

Tony Blair has served the United Kingdom as prime minister from 1997 to 2007 which made him be the longest-serving prime minister in the United Kingdom under the ticket of a labor party. He had joined the government through a ticker of the Labour Party and he has been the leader of the party since 1994. Through his leadership, he was able to lead the party to victory where they defeated the Conservative Party in the 1997 general election. It is at this time that Blair was elected as United Kingdom prime minister through the ticket of a labor party. Blair has been a Member of Parliament from the region of Sedgefield. He was the official Envoy of the Middle East and he was elected as a representative of the United Nations (UN), European Union (EU), Russia, and United States (Michael, 2000).

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In July 1994, Blair was elected as a leader of the Labour Party after the death of John Smith who was his predecessor. During his leadership, Blair influenced the party to abandon most of its policies which it had used for a long time referring to them as traditional policies and this led to drastic changes in the party’s progress and they were able to win the general election of 1997. Through his leadership, the party was able to record a landslide victory in 1997 during the general election which was held in the United Kingdom. The general election’s outcome brought to an end the conservative party rule which had governed the United Kingdom since 1832.

Tony Blair has been prime minister under the ticket of the Labour Party for a long time which makes him keep the record of the longest-serving prime minister of the Labour Party. He has enabled the Labour Party to win general elections three consecutive times due to his leadership style (Hoagland, 2007). Blair had served in office for ten years as a prime minister before he was succeeded by Gordon Brown who is currently serving under the ticket of Labour Party since June 2007 and later occupied the office of prime minister after Blair tendered his resignation letter to the Queen.

The political career of Blair stretching back to 1987 started with him being in opposition whereby he progressed to be the leader of Labour Party and he was later elected as prime minister with the ticket of Labour Party up to the time he resigned as prime minister on May 10th, 2007.

In position

After the general elections of 1987, Blair was promoted as spokesman of trade and industry in London and it is during this time that he was elected into the shadow cabinet whereby he acquired around 77 votes to be in the shadow cabinet, this made Blair gain popularity and this enabled him to lead the labor party into victory during the general election which was held in 1997. Blair gained most of his leadership skills from the challenges that he faced in the government in managing the Stock market of the United Kingdom something which enabled Blair to raise his profile by castigating trade within the city which he referred to as incompetent and dubious (BBC, 2008). He also criticized London Stock Exchange Small Scale Investors.

During the subsequent year, Blair was elected in shadow cabinet where he held this position as shadow secretary of state for energy and where he held a position as shadow employment secretary it is while in this position that Blair realized the problems which government was unable to solve and he included them the manifesto during his campaigns of 1997 general election by pledging to citizens that he would implement major policy changes in those areas which were not catered for by the government. During the time that he held this position, the Labour Party had started to support a social charter for Europeans which had started to emerge on employment law and this made the party drop its traditions so that it could support the policies of Blair.

During the 1992 general election run-up, it is at this time the Labour party was modernized by Blair and he was able to develop the minimum wage policy. This helped in leading the labor party into victory in the 1997 general elections since they had eliminated those aspects that were making it fail.

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After the Labour Party was defeated four consecutive times in general elections, it resulted in the resignation of Kinnock Neil who was the party leader by then. After his resignation, Blair held the position of shadow home secretary which was under the management of John Smith. This time, the Labour Party was quite weak on its crime policy which made Blair put in a lot of effort so that he could change this aspect. He anticipated that many people would be imprisoned and the sense of community would be lost. He wanted everyone to be equal and he vehemently opposed capital punishment. His great efforts on the labor party after the resignation of Kinnock Neil resulted in a lot of changes which made the party emerge winners after the general election of 1997 ( BBC, 2008). His efforts were mainly to change the tactics of the party so that it could have a new look that can be accepted by the majority.

Blair became the official leader of opposition in 1993; after the sudden death of John Smith, fresh elections were held whereby Blair emerged as the winner after he had defeated Margaret Beckett and John Prescott. This enabled him to make various changes to the constitution of the party which was implemented in early 1994. During his time in office, he appointed counselor privy which made people realize his potential and addressed him as Right honorable (Michael, 2002). This resulted in his subsequent victory and his popularity by this time made him emerge as the next Prime Minister who served for three consecutive terms.

Labour Party leader

In 1994, during the Labour Party conference, Blair said that he wanted to change clause IV of the constitution of the party which was to be replaced by aims and values statements. This change resulted in the deletion of the party’s commitments which were referred to as Nationalism Wholesale (McSmith, 1997). The statement which replaced the clause stated that the party should be democratic socialism and this was approved in April 1995 as highly symbolic. It is after the replacement of these constitutional clauses that made most of the leaders initiate change on party ruling which resulted in success during the following general election of 1997.

Labor Party’s policies were revised by Blair which changed the image of labor to that of competence and modernity and they were referred to as new labor which brought about the distinction of the old Labour Party to a new one. This transformation of the party resulted in a lot of criticism. The party under the leadership of Blair changed the public perception which made it to be recognized greatly in the United Kingdom and this resulted in recognition of his ruling. During a conference held in 1996 by the Labour Party, Blair was able to address the objectives that he needed to achieve as the leader of the party was mainly to improve education status. This was to be supported by the majority since the leader of conservative government by this time who was John Major had begun to be unpopular and this saw the Labour Party become popular under the leadership of Blair.

The conservative party was divided over the European Union although this issue was well handled by the party’s leadership. In 1997 Labour Party emerged as the winner of landslide victory whereby they won the elections through the leadership of the Young Blair who was at this time aged 43 years and occupied the office of prime minister.

Prime minister

On 2nd May 1997, Tony Blair was elected as the prime minister of the United Kingdom who also served concurrently as a leader of the Labour Party, MP of Sedgefield, Civil service minister, Lord of the treasury, and as a privy counselor (Jim, 2000). Blair became the longest-serving prime minister under the ticket of Labour Party after he won elections for three consecutive terms i.e. 1997, 2001, and 2005 this shows that he served for ten years as prime minister and he also enabled the party to win elections for three consecutive general elections, a feat which had not been achieved before.

Blair has been greatly criticized and at the same time, he is credited for enabling the Labour Party to remain at the center of British politics. A new Labour Party was used to distinguish market policies advantages from the policies of collectivist which were used by the party initially.

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Regarding the policies of domestic government, Blair increased public spending significantly which was merely directed towards education and health and he also introduced reforms in the market. Minimum wage was also introduced during Blair’s tenure. Other reforms also took place such as higher education tuition fees and constitutional reform which embarked on in Scotland and Wales. During his leadership, British economic status rose significantly and it performed quite well. Blair maintained the law which was passed by the conservative government and he vowed to citizens not to increase income tax. He also introduced subtle tax which was in large number but it was also introduced by the conservative government as stealth taxes.

Blair contributed peace process in Northern Ireland whereby he helped greatly to negotiate an agreement for Good Friday which was recognized widely after 30 years of conflict. At the time when the war on terror started in 2001, the foreign policies of the United States were strongly supported by Blair when they invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and also the Iraq war in 2003. He faced a lot of criticism since he supported the policy and criticism of the circumstances which were decided upon. For example, Iraq was accused of processing weapons that it could use for mass destruction. In as far as the security of the United States was concerned, he had unwavering support which made Blair be honored and awarded a Gold medal for congressional in 2003. By September 2006, Blair was facing a lot of pressure to resign as a leader of the Labour Party before the trade union congress was held in 2007.

Relationship of Blair with parliament

Parliamentary procedures were changed significantly by Blair. Changes that he made while the prime minister included the replacement of the prime minister’s Question session which was held for 15 minutes twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays which he wanted to be replaced with just one session which was to take place for 30 minutes on Wednesdays only. Blair felt it was critical to preparing just for one session which is longer than spending time preparing for two short sessions two days a week (Jones, 2007). Blair fielded many questions for journalists about the prime minister’s questions in press conferences which he held with Journalists every month. He also changed parliament’s session’s official time which was geared towards enabling the parliament to carry out its duties in a business-like manner.

Resignation

During a speech at Trimdon Labour Club, which was held in Sedgefield Constituency on 10th May 2007, Blair wanted to announce that he wanted to resign from being the leader of the Labour Party and from the post of the prime minister the following month which was June.

On June 24th, Gordon Brown took over the leadership of the Labour Party from Tony Blair formally at a conference party that was held in Manchester.

On 27th June 2007, Blair tendered his resignation letter to the Queen as prime minister of the United Kingdom which allowed his successor Gordon Brown to assume office immediately. At the same time, he resigned from the House of Commons which performed its duties traditionally since he accepted stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds. After Blair stepped down from the United Kingdom parliament, the elections which were held in his constituency were worn by Wilson Phil (David, 2004). Blair till to date is holding the resignation honors list which is believed that is a result of an investigation by the police on cash for the honor. Investigations ended some time ago and there has been no evidence of list seen. If Blair fails to produce these lists, he will keep a record as the prime minister who did not issue a list of resignation honors.

Middle East envoy

After Blair resigned officially from the post of prime minister on 27th June 2007 where he had served for ten years, he was confirmed officially as the newly elected member of Middle East envoy for United Nations, United States, European Union, and Russia (Byron, Robert, 2002). Blair wanted to retain his seat as Member of Parliament which comes into effect after he was appointed the envoy of the Middle East. After he was given the roles in the Middle East, he resigned from common so that he could carry out simpler duties and more specific one since he took up the office for a profitable gain.

Role and fall of Tony Blair

Blair had been the prime minister of the United Kingdom for a decade after he had led to victory for the Labour Party for three consecutive elections. His later decision to step down from the leadership of the Labour Party leaving the party better than before portrays the success that he had led the party through. When he came to power, Blair had vowed to unite the people of the United Kingdom and to modernize the facilities and services of the United Kingdom. Until his stepping-down, Blair had led the country into an international military effort to fight against the act of terrorism. Tony Blair had remained in opposition for 18 years before he led the Labour Party into victory and hence becoming the prime minister of the United Kingdom after they won the general election which was held in 1997. Most of the years that he has remained in office have been greatly dominated by the war on terror which were mainly the issues of foreign policy.

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Ethics and Ideology of Tony Blair

Tony Blair has fought a great battle on foreign wars and in interventions of military doctrines after his stepping down and resignation from the various position, Blair emphasizes on his successors to fight a good battle on these aspects. Blair the same way as his predecessors had the same vision of state and society i.e. they all wanted to ensure that there was a liberal market and the nation should be a democratic state.

Blair wanted to ensure that throughout his ruling, he maintained an equal society which was to be based on achievement of education. He emphasized democratic society which led him through the second term and something which gave him a chance to portray his social philosophy, whereby he greatly emphasized social justice through personal achievements which could bring about equal talent opportunities and this could enable people to access education equally.

After Blair was elected envoy in the Middle East, Arabs doubted whether he could succeed in solving the crisis in the Middle East since they believed that he was not popular enough and also his closeness with Israel and United States. This is because Blair passed little credibility in the Middle East since he was part of those who initiated the invasion of Iraq and he was not able to tackle the conflicts of Israel and Palestinians. Blair supported George Bush’s policies which made the people of the Middle East think that he would use Bush’s policies.

Blair was forced to resign since he did not receive any confidence from his people since he had a lot of American leanings and he was also accused of giving empty promises to his government.

Political over view and criticism

In conclusion, Labour Party for a long time has been known as a political party with a lot of socialist ideologies. Blair wanted to increase prosperity in UK’s economy and also to promote the social justice of the country. Before the 1997 general election, Blair promised that the party will have good policies which will be based on reviewing key issues since he operated as a social democrat. Blair was placed at the center by backbenchers and left-wingers who greatly criticized him despite them being part of the Labour Party. They wanted to make him work by placing pressure on him.

During the 2005 opinion polls on the performance of Blair, he found out that he was placed on the right side of the spectrum after the majority who voted were the British and the members of the Labour Party. The financial status of the United Kingdom after they were evaluated portrayed that Blair was not quite conservative but he was a populist instead.

According to the views of many people, they believed that Blair succeeds politically for those three terms since he had the capability of occupying the central ground and therefore he appealed to voters based on the political spectrum which resulted in him coming to traditional odds with the Labour Party values.

Despite the long-term domination of Blair, he has not made any effort to shift the opponent party i.e. conservative party to the left. This could be enhanced so that his hegemony could be challenged there. In the course of his ruling, Blair raised taxes and he also made implementations on redistributive policies. In another view, he introduced reduced wages and came up with new rights for the employee. He came up with new constitutional reforms which were incomplete and controversial. In his ruling, he introduced quite a several reforms that many people were against them.

One of the major criticisms that he faced is that of his alliance with George Bush and the policies which he used in the Middle East did not go down well with party supporters. This criticism posed a lot of challenges to Tony Blair since he was valued as the one who led to the erosion of civil liberty and in the increase of authoritarianism socially. Blair is a leader who has led to the success of the Labour Party and at the same time, he has faced a lot of criticism which made him resign from the prime minister’s post.

References

Michael F, 2000, Tony Blair and the Politics of Public Leadership, Manchester University New York.

David L, 2004, the Politics of Regulation, United Kingdom, Edward Edgar.

Jim C, 2000, Future of Electoral Politics Political Science -Pluto Press, Sydney.

Byron C, Robert W, 2002, Almanac of British Politics Routledge, United Kingdom.

Bill Jones, 2007, Politics United Kingdom, Pearson Education, United Kingdom.

McSmith A., 1997, Faces of Labour: The Inside Story, Verso: New York.

Michael F., 2002, Tony Blair and the Conflict of Leadership, Manchester University Press United Kingdom.

BBC, 2008, Historic Figures: Tony Blair, Web.

BBC, 2008. Tony Blair’s History, Web.

Hoagland, J, 2007, Tony Blair verses History, Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, October 12). T. Blair: Labour Party Leader and Prime Minister of UK. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/t-blair-labour-party-leader-and-prime-minister-of-uk/

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